The Great War: A World War I Historical Collection

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Battlefield conditions were horrific, typified by the chaotic, cratered hellscape of the Western Front, where soldiers in muddy trenches faced bullets, bombs, gas, bayonet charges, and more. On this year anniversary, I've gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world. This entry is part 1 of a part series on World War I. In this installment, I hope to give a glimpse of the war's beginnings, and a preview of what is to come.

WW1 - The Definitive Collection

Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade walk on a duckboard track laid across a muddy, shattered battlefield in Chateau Wood, near Hooge, Belgium, on October 29, This was during the Battle of Passchendaele, fought by British forces and their allies against Germany for control of territory near Ypres, Belgium. Of the remaining monarchs pictured, over the next decade one would be assassinated Greece , three would keep their nations neutral Norway, Spain, and Denmark , and two would be forced out of power by revolutions. In , Austria-Hungary was a powerful and huge country, larger than Germany, with nearly as many citizens.

It had been ruled by Emperor Franz Joseph I since , who had been grooming his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the heir to the throne. Earlier that morning, on the way to the hall, their motorcade had been attacked by one of a group of Serbian nationalist assassins, whose bomb damaged one car and injured dozens of bystanders.

After this photo was taken, the Archduke and his wife climbed into the open car, headed for a nearby hospital to visit the wounded. Just blocks away though, the car paused to turn around, directly in front of another assassin, who walked up to the car and fired two shots, killing both Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Princip, a 19 year old a Bosnian Serb who killed the Archduke, was recruited along with five others by Danilo Ilic, a friend and fellow Bosnian Serb, who was a member of the Black Hand secret society.

Their ultimate goal was the creation of a Serbian nation. The conspiracy, assisted by members of Serbia's military, was quickly uncovered, and the attack became a catalyst that would soon set massive armies marching against each other around the world. All of the assassins were captured and tried. Thirteen received medium-to-short prison sentences, including Princip who was too young for the death penalty, and received the maximum, a 20 year sentence.

Three of the conspirators were executed by hanging. Four years after the assassination, Gavrilo Princip died in prison, brought down by tuberculosis, which was worsened by harsh conditions brought on by the war he helped set in motion. A Bosnian Serb nationalist possibly Gavrilo Princip, more likely bystander Ferdinand Behr , is captured by police and taken to the police station in Sarajevo, on June 28, , following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, and his wife. Shortly after the assassination, Austria-Hungary issued a list of demands to Serbia, demanding they halt all anti-Austro-Hungarian activity, dissolve certain political groups, remove certain political officers, and arrest those within its borders who participated in the assassination, among other things -- with 48 hours to comply.

Serbia, with the backing of their ally Russia, politely refused to fully comply, and mobilized their army. A network of treaties and alliances then kicked in, and within a month's time, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France, Britain, and Japan had all mobilized their armies and declared war.

World War I and The Art of War: WWI Posters from the Collection of Oscar Jacobson

In this photo, taken in August of , Prussian guard infantry in new field gray uniforms leave Berlin, Germany, heading for the front lines. Girls and women along the way greet and hand flowers to them. Belgian soldiers with their bicycles in Boulogne, France, Belgium asserted neutrality from the start of the conflict, but provided a route into France that the German army coveted, so Germany declared it would "treat her as an enemy", if Belgium did not allow German troops free passage.

The conflict, called the Great War by those involved, was the first large-scale example of modern warfare - technologies still use in battle today were introduced in large scale forms then, some like chemical attacks were outlawed and later viewed as war crimes. The newly-invented aeroplane took its place as an observation platform, a bomber, and an anti-personnel weapon, even as an anti-aircraft defense, shooting down enemy aircraft. Here, French soldiers gather around a priest as he blesses an aircraft on the Western Front, in Between and the war's end in , more than 65 million soldiers were mobilized worldwide - requiring mountains of supplies and gear.

Here, on a table set up outside a steel helmet factory in Lubeck, Germany, a display is set up, showing the varying stages of the helmet-making process for Stahlhelms for the Imperial German Army.

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A Belgian soldier smokes a cigarette during a fight between Dendermonde and Oudegem, Belgium, in Germany had hoped for a swift victory against France, and invaded Belgium in August of , heading into France. The German army swept through Belgium, but was met with stiffer resistance than it anticipated in France.

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The Germans approached to within 70 kilometers of Paris, but were pushed back a ways, to a more stable position, which would become battlefields lined with trenches, fought over for years. In this opening month of World War I, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded -- France suffered its greatest single-day loss on August 22nd, when more than 27, soldiers were killed by rifle and machine-gun, thousands more wounded.

German soldiers celebrate Christmas in the field, in December of The front in France, a scene on a battlefield at midnight. Opposing armies were sometimes situated in trenches just yards apart from each other. An Austrian soldier, dead on a battleground, in Austro-Hungarian troops executing Serbian civilians, likely ca.

The Reel Story of the Great War | National Archives

Serbians suffered greatly during the war years, counting more than a million casualties by , including losses in battle, mass executions, and the worst typhus epidemic in history. The Japanese fleet off the coast of China in Japan sided with the United Kingdom and its allies, attacking German interests in the Pacific, including island colonies and leased territories on the Chinese mainland. View from an airplane of biplanes flying in formation, ca.

The Salonica Macedonian front, Indian troops at a Gas mask drill. Allied forces joined with Serbs to battle armies of the Central Powers and force a stable front throughout most of the war. The French battleship Bouvet, in the Dardanelles.

Europe Prior to World War I: Alliances and Enemies I PRELUDE TO WW1 - Part 1/3

It was assigned to escort troop convoys through the Mediterranean at the start of the war. In early , part of a larger group of combined British and French ships sent to clear Turkish defenses of the Dardanelles, Bouvet was hit by at least eight Turkish shells, then struck a mine, which caused so much damage, the ship sank within a few minutes. While a few men survived the sinking and were rescued, nearly went down with the ship. A dog belonging to a Mr. Dumas Realier, dressed as a German soldier, in These enormous shells weighed 1, lbs. The promise of an all-volunteer contingent had been superseded by events.

French Canada's opposition was almost unanimous under Henri Bourassa , who argued that Canada had done enough, that Canada's interests were not served by the European conflict, and that men were more needed to grow food and make munitions. Borden felt such arguments were cold and materialistic.

Canada owed its support to its young soldiers. The Allied struggle against Prussian militarism was a crusade for freedom. There was no bridging the rival points of view. To win conscription, Borden offered Sir Wilfrid Laurier a coalition. The Liberal leader refused, sure that his party could now defeat the Conservatives.

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Laurier misjudged his support. Many English-speaking Liberals agreed that the war was a crusade. A mood of reform and sacrifice had led many provinces to grant votes to women and to prohibit the sale or use of liquor see Temperence.

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Although they disliked the Conservatives , many reform Liberals like Ontario's Newton Rowell believed that Borden was in earnest about the war and Laurier was not. Borden also gave himself two political weapons: on 20 September Parliament gave the franchise to all soldiers, including those overseas; it also gave votes to soldiers' wives, mothers and sisters, as well as to women serving in the armed forces , and took it away from Canadians of enemy origin who had become citizens since This added many votes for conscription and removed certain Liberal voters from the lists.

On 6 October Parliament was dissolved. Five days later, Borden announced a coalition Union government pledged to conscription, an end to political patronage, and full Women's Suffrage. Borden and his ministers had to promise many exemptions to make conscription acceptable. On 17 December, Unionists won seats to Laurier's 82, but without the soldiers' vote, only , votes separated the parties. Conscription was not applied until 1 January The Military Service Act had so many opportunities for exemption and appeal, that of more than , called, , appealed.

The manpower problem continued. In March disaster fell upon the Allies. German armies, moved from the Eastern to the Western Front after Russia's collapse in , smashed through British lines. The Fifth British Army was destroyed. Borden's new government cancelled all exemptions. Many who had voted Unionist in the belief that their sons would be exempted felt betrayed. The war had entered a bitter final phase. On 6 December the Halifax Explosion killed over 1,, and it was followed by the worst snowstorm in years. Across Canada, the heavy borrowing of Sir Thomas White federal minister of finance finally led to runaway inflation. Workers joined unions and struck for higher wages. Food and fuel controllers now preached conservation, sought increased production and sent agents to prosecute hoarders. An "anti-loafing" law threatened jail for any man not gainfully employed. Federal police forces were ordered to hunt for sedition. Socialist parties and radical unions were banned. So were newspapers published in the "enemy" languages.

Canadians learned to live with unprecedented government controls and involvement in their daily lives. Food and fuel shortages led to "Meatless Fridays" and "Fueless Sundays. In other warring countries, exhaustion and despair went far deeper. Defeat now faced the western Allies, but the Canadian Corps escaped the succession of German offensives.